67 percent more German schoolchildren being kept back a year

67 percent more German schoolchildren being kept back a year

German government statistics have revealed that an increasing amount of school-age children are having to retake a year of their primary or secondary education. The numbers vary greatly across gender and federal-state divides.

Increasing number of German children struggling at school

During the academic year of 2020 / 21, the number of children in Germany who were repeating a school year was 60.000. Now, according to new data from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), the number has increased by 67 percent from one year to the next. The academic year 2021 / 22 saw 155.800 pupils retake a year. 

This number is made up of pupils who are voluntarily resitting their year and those who have been held back because of performance-related issues. 

With 2022 being the first in two school years to be relatively unaffected by coronavirus, the sudden leap in pupils staying back is expected to be a result of a return to pre-pandemic placement regulations in German schools. During coronavirus lockdowns and regular school closures, many Bundesländer (federal states) relaxed rules about what was required of pupils in order to transition to the next school year.

Which pupils are repeating a year at school?

Of the now 155.800 German school children retaking their previous school year there is a pronounced gender divide, with boys making up 58 percent of repeating pupils.

Across Germany, 2,4 percent of schoolchildren are now resitting their previous year, though coronavirus school closures have coloured each federal state differently. According to Destatis, schoolchildren in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern have been the most affected, with 5 percent of pupils now retaking their previous school year. Sachsen-Anhalt followed with 3,4 percent.

In Bremen and Berlin, pupils faired better, with a respective 1,5 and 1,2 percent of pupils in the city-states retaking their studies in 2021 / 22.

Thumb image credit: rkl_foto /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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